By Peter Sanchez, Reporter for the Star Herald
GIBBSBORO — Six months out of the year, “snowbirds” Lois and Bob Cosentino enjoy the warm weather in Naples, Florida.
“I’m a Eucharistic Minister at Saint Katharine Drexel Church down there,” Bob says. For the other half of the year, the Gibbsboro residents hope to spend a lot of time at Saint Andrew the Apostle here at the parish’s new Renaissance Center, the initiative of its Senior Adult Ministry.
“We’re anxious to see what programs they come up with,” Bob continued, as his wife added, “We like to line dance.” Indeed, there would be a dance instructor at the Renaissance Center’s unveiling, where Lois and Bob joined 50 others in Saint Andrew’s parish center on Sept. 19.
Twice a week, the center will offer activities, fellowship and nutritious meals to local seniors, enhancing their quality of life and creating community.
“We’re pleased with the commitment that Saint Andrew the Apostle Parish is making to bring life to seniors,” said Deacon Jerry Jablonowski, executive director of VITALity Catholic Healthcare Services in the Diocese of Camden. He was present at the center’s opening to greet the potential new regulars. “Programs like this break the cycle of isolation” of senior citizens, which can lead to loneliness and depression, he said.
Saint Andrew is the second parish to have a Senior Ministry program in the Diocese of Camden, along with Merchantville’s Saint Peter Parish.
Tese Hemschoot, the director of Senior Adult Ministry, is eager to start spending time twice a week with this community.
“These programs will enliven and awaken them to new things. We want to make sure they aren’t marginalized,” she said.
Father Michael de Leon, parochial vicar at Saint Andrew, says the senior ministry shows the parish’s older faithful that “we recognize their existence.”
“Seniors are shown respect and dignity with this ministry, and it’s an opportunity for them to meet others, and be a part of the parish,” he said.
The Senior Ministry at Saint Andrew the Apostle Parish meets every Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Upcoming events include trivia, a movie matinee, karaoke and a Halloween murder mystery. Breakfast and lunch are served at each gathering.
For more information, call Tese Hemschoot at 856-784-3878.